Process Control Application of a Decentralized Process Control System in a Biotechnology Project

Author / Editor: Martin Ortgies / Dr. Jörg Kempf

A central process control system is not sufficiently flexible or too expensive for many companies. The German engineering office for process automation/control, pac here relies on control units by Wago. In a project for biotechnology at Novartis, a remote system had to prove itself as a control unit of process systems in conjunction with a central monitoring system.

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The requirements by Novartis was aimed at a flexible, remote process control system to automate the process sequences and simultaneously be able to reduce the manual efforts for logging.
The requirements by Novartis was aimed at a flexible, remote process control system to automate the process sequences and simultaneously be able to reduce the manual efforts for logging.
(Picture: Novartis, pac)

Novartis operates many multi-purpose systems in the field of biotechnology, which are not geared to mass production with fixed production processes. Production and processes change regularly, a central process control system is therefore too inflexible.

According to the requirements by ERES (Electronic Records — Electronic Signatures) or the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), 21CFR Part11, data and user interventions, such as settings and configurations, however, would have to the recorded during production and stored securely. This logging was previously associated with a great manual effort.

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Controlling Processes Remotely

The requirements by Novartis therefore was aimed at a flexible, remote process control system to automate the process sequences and simultaneously be able to reduce the manual efforts for logging. The manual operation of self-contained basic function (such as filling, agitating, transfers) should be controlled partially automated, and also automated fixed function, such as cleaning processes (Cleaning in Place, CIP).

Autonomous Automation Solution

As an alternative to a central process control system, Novartis decided to set up a remote process controller by pac using the technique of Wago. Industrial PCs control the individual systems. The control panels are on site. The control units are connected via Ethernet. The sensors/actuators on the IPCs can be switched via I/O terminals. In addition, the IPC activates the Festo valve terminals via Profibus. A central log server records the process data and logs all alarms, faults and user input according to 21CFR Part11.

“The Wago-IPC is predestined for use as remote process controller,” explains Jürgen Sütterle, Managing Director of pac...

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